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Google is fascinating. Type in your name, and/or your title: what comes up? Is your book’s website the top hit?

Are there references to you that don’t represent you well, or are too personal? It’s important to get a handle on what people will find when they look for you. You can use the tools here to make private pages unsearchable. (I want my mom and dad, not the general public, looking at pictures of my kids.)

Once my website and numerous professional references to my book became firmly established as the top content of my search results, I had to get creative to find the new stuff.

Using “show options” (a link up near the top left of the results page) can filter the results usefully. “Latest,” “News” and “Blogs” will show you results about you and your book that might otherwise be so deep into the general search results you wouldn’t otherwise realize they exist. (This doesn’t mean they’re not important, by the way. Sure, their results are deep when you google MY name, but they have their own followings and can be the tops of their own subject searches.)

Google Alerts? Of course. They email to let me know when someone has mentioned me (or mentioned that doctor by the same name, or that lacrosse player).

Who on Google shares your name? What’s the silliest thing you wish weren’t online about you?


I have a Facebook confession: I haven’t checked my news feed of friends’ status posts in months.

After an initial flurry of keeping up, I have settled on using Facebook as a place to report occasional things of interest in my own status reports, and to treat other people’s profiles as aggregate, rather than immediate, sources of info. When I want to catch up on someone in particular (and I often do), a quick visit to their profile will catch me up on their recent life. This is much more useful to me than trying to keep up with the daily deluge.

I decided I needed a professional profile as well as my personal one. It wasn’t just a matter of keeping baby photos private; it’s the content of status updates too. The things my personal friends will find entertaining are different from what are relevant for me as a writer to report. So I have two profiles: a personal one under my married name, which is full of child pix and personal status info, and my professional account,

My purposes in having an author Facebook profile are:

  • To keep in contact with other writers. I’ve friended many of the authors I “know” from various online writing communities.
  • To give readers the opportunity to friend me. When I weighed maintaining a fan page v. maintaining an author profile, I chose profile because I, personally, like friending somebody better than fanning them. It feels more personal, even if it isn’t really. (I don’t have plans to do a separate fan page.)
  • To have a place for book-related announcements

I double-friended my personal friends, so they see both my personal and professional profiles.

And, yes, I do mix them up sometimes. My two Facebook selves are friends with each other, so can see each other’s full profiles. When I visit either profile, the face of that profile is at the top, and the “status update” box and “write on the wall” box are identical. I sometimes assume I am that person, when actually I’m logged in as the other, and “comment” as a visitor to the profile when I think I’m “status updating” my own profile. It’s a minor annoyance, and I’m getting in the habit of confirming who I am before I write anything. I think maybe unfriending myselves will help–that way, whichever profile I had access to would be the profile I was logged in as. Hmmm…

Tips: If you want your newsfeed to be at all readable, “hide” annoying quizzes and apps. You have do this for each kind of quiz and app as it comes up, but, once you do, you’ll never see that type again. You can even hide people, and so reduce the number of status reports in your news feed to just the people most personally relevant to you.

I have tweeted a bit, in my role as a blogger at The Debutante Ball. Twitter is too chaotic for me. Maybe one day I’ll wrap my head around it, but for now I simply don’t grok it enough to do it well, I don’t think. Besides, my book name and author name are taken!

Speaking of blogs: The Debutante Ball has been amazing. It’s a group blog started four years ago by a group of five female debut authors, and every year it is passed on to another five. I’m honored and delighted to be a 2010 Deb. I blog every Monday, for my debut year (August 2009–August 2010). The sharing of the workload + it being already established with an audience has been great.

Why did I start this blog? I’ve been involved in a lot of interesting discussions about the promotional aspect of publishing lately, and I’ve found I have a lot to say.

What social media works out best for you, as a writer or reader? Do you prefer Facebook fan pages or Facebook author profiles? What about MySpace and Twitter?

ETA: I’ve given in. At Melanie Benjamin’s urging, I’ve started to tweet.

An author website is a must. When someone googles you, you should provide them with an official source of information about you and your book.

There are three main audiences for your website: potential readers considering your book, fans who want to know more about you, and reviewers/journalists/bloggers who want to write about your book.

For potential readers:

  • Tell them what your book is about
  • Show them the cover
  • Excerpt reviews and endorsements
  • Provide buy links
  • Include the fine print, like publisher, ISBN and on-sale date (booksellers will thank you)

For fans:

  • Tell them about yourself
  • Include a photo
  • Give them a means to contact you

For press/bloggers:

  • Have a short bio and short book description that they can copy/paste
  • Provide hi-res photos of you and your book for them to use when they write about you

These are some tools I use to check up on my website’s impact and effectiveness:

Google Analytics

This tool lets me know how many people have visited my site, and from where in the world, and from what source on the internet. Also, how long they stayed and what pages they viewed. Amazing!

Link Popularity Check (at Submit Express)
(For some reason, all my attempts to link to this site transform into a link for a WordPress page. Anyone know why??)

This shows me one measure of relative popularity. You can see your own ranking, and compare yourself to others.

Website Grader

This automatedly evaluates your website and give specific comments as to what features you lack or underuse.

What do you look for in an author website? What turns you off?

ETA: Oh, and Browsershots is another great resource. It lets you see what your site looks like on different browsers.

My debut novel, THE WHOLE WORLD, launches next month. This is wonderful, and freaky. I’m longing for reader and critical feedback, and shy of it.

I’m already starting to find some numbers to unhealthily obsess over, attempting promotion, and planning a bookstore tour. Share the madness over the next few months, while I report on what I’m trying to do, what works best, and the emotional upheaval of an introvert becoming an (albeit extremely minor) “public person.”

From “Envoy” by Billy Collins, a message to his just-published book:

"stay out as late as you like,
don't bother to call or write,
and talk to as many strangers as you can."